Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
August 1st, 2017

The Belko Experiment

The Belko Experiment
Directed by Greg McLean
Written by James Gunn
Starring John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona
89 minutes

Sometimes the best way to pitch a movie is by noting what titles it relates to, or is combined with. "X meets Y" is a great elevator pitch, or so I'm told--I myself have a lovely screenplay sitting around that's "Saw Meets Survivor Meets The Other Guys"--and the folks out at Blumhouse have perhaps topped me in this with "The Belko Experiment," a movie that manages to mix together Cabin in the Woods and Office Space.

"The Belko Experiment" takes us to the Belko Corporation's Bogota, Colombia offices, where a social experiment perhaps best described as "deranged" is about to take place. Belko's decided to cut staffing in Bogota, and has done so by locking the doors, windows, and every other way out and demanding deaths. Lots of them. Now the rush is on to either avoid landing the terminal pink slip or deliver it unto someone else, and what follows will be nothing short of a bloodbath.

It already strains your suspension of disbelief engines just by starting; apparently laws against murder in Colombia are somewhere at the "Mad Max" level. Or maybe Belko just got some really sweet tax incentives to locate down there that came with diplomatic immunity. There's a nice little explanation about the depth of the employment agreement, but somehow, I figure "we can straight up kill you whenever we want" is probably not enforceable. Maybe it's different in Colombia, but I kind of doubt it.

Given that this is a Blumhouse release--which is basically code for "almost always worth watching if you ignore Jem and the Holograms, please ignore Jem and the Holograms"--it's a safe bet this will be at least passable. Starting the movie with the Spanish version of "I Will Survive" was a great move too; spelling out just what's going on with one musical cue.

As implausible a premise as this is, it's still noteworthy. It's the Milgram experiment writ large, and disastrous. It's got it's flaws, sure--believability here is stretched so thin you can read the script through it--but the end result is still quite a show. There's plenty of adrenaline here, some unexpected little moments where you wonder just what's going on, and sometimes the wonder pays off. That's surprisingly satisfying, and "The Belko Experiment" delivers this odd sort of satisfaction on several fronts.

Don't get me wrong; I still miss the old days of horror movies where the protagonists fought evil instead of trying to vaguely outlast it or work within it. But The Belko Experiment does deliver some real thrills and plenty of ominous buildup.

The ending is packed with excitement, including a rather unlikely kill and a clearly unlikely premise at the end.

Special features include audio options, your choice of English, Spanish or French subtitles, deleted scenes, a photo gallery, a featurette on survival tips from Lee Hardcastle, a featurette on the "Secrets Behind the Belko Experiment," and trailers for "Logan," "A Cure for Wellness," "Morgan," and "The Belko Experiment."

If you ever wanted to see a world where "Dilbert" was a horror movie, congratulations, because you've lived long enough to see your dream come true with "The Belko Experiment." Corporate madness taken to its worst degree, and writ larger than a banner off the top of a six-story building, it is at once the worst and potentially even the best of us.